The best way to eradicate aquatic invasive species is to catch them early.
That was the message during the Nov. 30 Mirror and Shadow Lake Management Plan meeting at the Holly History and Genealogy Center.
It was the second in a series of meetings being held to develop a management plan for the two lakes.
Paul Skawinski, regional AIS Education specialist with Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council, spoke on the topic of aquatic invasive species at the meeting.
“Not all non-native species are invasive. Not all invasives are non-native,” he said.
Skawinski said they got here by way of shipping, the nursery industry and the aquarium trade and have been spread by boats, water garden and aquarium owners and by natural dispersal.
He educated those in attendance about what aquatic invasive species look like with handouts and with samples that were either in plastic bags or taped onto a sheet of paper.
Among those discussed during the meeting were curly-leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermillfoil, rusty crayfish, Japanese knotweed, purple loosestrife and zebra mussels.
With zebra mussels in the nearby Chain O’ Lakes, there is concern about them getting into Mirror and Shadow lakes and what can be done to prevent that from happening.
“They will attach to anything hard, including themselves,” Skawinski said. “There are a ton of them in the Lake Winnebago system. They can produce a million eggs per female.”
There was a brief discussion about whether it would be helpful to have a rinse station at the Chain so that boats coming out of the water would be rinsed.
“It would be a good idea to maybe have one at the Chain and one here, but I know there are a couple boat landings on the Chain,” he said.
“Right now, we don’t know of anything that is a good option to get ride of them (zebra mussels).”
In the case of some plants that are invasive species, there are some biological controls including weevils and beetles that can be used.
Weevils are a nice option for Eurasian watermillfoil, while beetles have successfully been used in the city with purple loosestrife.
Skawinski said that another option – particularly when the number of plants is small – is to manually remove them.
“If you find an early population, the chance of eradication is high. You must get the roots because it is a perennial. No permit is needed.
Anyone can do this,” he said.
Skawinski there are different programs that help lake groups, including education pieces, watercraft inspection and voluntary monitoring for invasive species.
He said that unfortunately a lot of the plants that are invasive species were brought here on purpose – because someone thought they were pretty.
“Seven years ago, no one knew what it meant,” Skawinski said about aquatic invasive species. “The education has come a long way. If you catch it when there are only a few plants there, you can get rid of it in 15 minutes. What we hope for is that people stop moving this stuff around.”
Those who attended the meeting talked about what can be done to educate those who live on Mirror and Shadow lakes.
One suggestion was that information about which aquatic invasive species to be on the lookout for could be distributed to property owners.
The next Mirror and Shadow Lake Management Plan meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, at the Holly History and Genealogy Center. The public is invited.